Our Story

Built in 1989 to support and foster the growth of performing arts in Phoenix as a performance venue and arts incubator, the Herberger Theater Center actively contributes to the cultural and educational development of the Valley.

From Our Founding to Our Future

For more than three decades, the Herberger Theater Center, which was conceived as a nonprofit, civic treasure in the heart of downtown Phoenix, has played a vital role in Arizona’s cultural evolution. In the late 1980s, Richard Mallery, a local attorney and champion of an urban revitalization effort, led the charge to build an artistic showcase. Mallery invited philanthropists Katherine “Kax” and Bob Herberger to lunch, where they perched beside the windows atop what is now the Chase Building so they could see the future construction site below. The Herbergers, passionate supporters of the arts themselves, committed to the project on the spot and helped found this first performing arts center of its kind in the state.

Now, almost 35 years since that fateful lunch, the Herberger Theater is home to three resident companies, some of which, until we opened our doors — and like other arts organizations around town — were performing in storefronts, in search of a place to call home. They found one here, and now, performing on our stages is how you know you’ve “made it” in Arizona.

Today, as Arizona continues to come into its own and take its place among the most populous states in the country, the Herberger Theater leads the way as its foremost arts institution. It’s a role we take very seriously, enhancing our region’s vitality by providing a forum for time-honored musicals and award-winning new plays; classic operas and dance performances; as well as rich cultural events and diverse experiences for our entire community that can only happen here.

Our President & CEO, Mark Mettes, a 30-year veteran of the Herberger Theater, says the commitment we have to the community has always been the same: “We play an essential role in bringing the timeless classics of the American stage to our community as well as works by new and venerable artists alike. We have a role in today and tomorrow — with our outreach, community and education programs — to foster a deep appreciation and respect for the arts in people of all ages, incomes and backgrounds.”

In addition to hosting our resident companies and the exceptional work they do, we create festivals that celebrate the arts; hold gallery shows and special events; and, in the face of a once-in-a century pandemic, even built a new outdoor stage to meet the moment. As a cultural center, we are a home for diverse and creative arts activity. We collaborate with other nonprofit organizations to provide youth art competitions and creative camps, bringing arts education to young people so they can grow a lifelong appreciation for the arts and grow their own creativity, as well as become creative problem-solvers.

And now, as we look ahead, we will continue to persevere in our mission to share our love of the performing arts with audiences from all walks of life, and further cement our legacy in the canon of Arizona arts and culture.